You can tell autumn is nearing when you get emails from auto repair shops promoting the Seven Point Winter Checkup. Even when you live in the center of one of the biggest cities in the world and are on first-name basis with your favorite Lyft drivers. But it's not a bad idea to pay attention to your other vehicle: your career. And yes, there is an owner's manual.
Here are your check points. If you can say yes to all of them, you're at least driving in the right direction.
- I am aware of the vision, mission, and/or goal for everything I do at work.
- When problems arise—of any kind—they are usually resolved in a reasonable and efficient way.
- My job responsibilities make sense to me, in terms of what my organization really needs.
- I get respect and recognition from others in a manner that's meaningful to me.
- My manager listens to me, values me, and encourages me to grow.
- My coworkers feel like a real team to me – we share the load, support each other, have fun together, and get the job done.
- I may not have big-picture responsibility or an executive title, but I know that I make a significant contribution.
If you didn't hit them all, here are some tips:
- First, to quote Socrates, Know Thyself. (Actually, being Greek, he probably said γνῶθι σεαυτόν.) But in any language, it's the best starting point from which to discover who you really want to be, and what sort of team contributions are really meaningful to you. If you're not sure about these things, ask people who know and love you for their perspective on the kinds of activities that always seem to get you going and make you happy.
- Second, learn something new every day. You don't have to take a formal class to learn, and that's not necessarily the best way, either. Try connecting with someone who knows more about the topic than you do. It's called social learning, and it's a powerful force for developing your teamwork skills because you learn with other people.
- And last, read the seven points again and ask yourself this question: 'If I were in charge, how would I go about making each of these points universally true?' Then, pick a career destination where you believe it can happen.
Remember, that checkup is supposed to keep your car performing well over the long, hard winter. Doesn't your career deserve as much?